June 1 marked the opening day of hurricane season in the U.S., but NOAA and other weather forecasters are being cautiously optimistic that this season won’t see much hurricane activity. They're optimisitc, in part, because they're anticipating that El Niño and cooler sea-surface temperatures in parts of the Atlantic could dampen storms. NOAA is predicting 8 to 13 named storms, 3 to 6 hurricanes and 1 to 2 major hurricanes for 2014.
Last year, predictions of a bad hurricane season failed to live up to the hype, with no hurricanes making landfall in the United States. Scientists are still trying to figure out why last year went so far off the mark.
But don’t throw out those storm shutters just yet. The Department of Atmospheric Science at Colorado State University mentions that:
Despite the quiet forecast, coastal residents are reminded that it only takes one hurricane making landfall to make it an active season for them. They are reminded to prepare the same for every season, regardless of how much or how little activity is predicted.
In addition, even though no high-powered storms (category 3 and up) have made landfall in the United States since the ruinous 2005 season of Katrina, Rita, and Wilma, smaller storms can still have a big impact. Sandy came ashore as a "post-tropical cyclone" in New Jersey in 2012, but caused billions of dollars in damage, still being cleaned up to this day.